Exodus 12:12 “For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast, and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the Lord.“
During a recent small group discussion we were talking about how God’s sovereignty and our responsibility mesh in terms of our salvation. On one hand we have the teaching that God is sovereign; in total control over all creation. That is what being sovereign means. On the other hand we have our responsibility to receive by faith the work Christ has done for us and to work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Phil 2:12). Our salvation is dependent on both the decisive work of God and dependent work of us. The beauty of God’s sovereignty is that all that He does and plan IS accomplished, including our salvation.
Romans 28:-30 “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.”
Those whom God predestined, He also called, justified and glorified. Past tense. It’s certain! What assurance! Given our salvation is a work of God, we can rely on that as our hope, not our ability to keep His law. However our “working out our salvation” is crucial to salvation as well – NOT to justify us, as that is only done by Christ, but rather as proof of the work that God has done, and is doing in our lives, to conform us into the image of God.
Ok now we come back to the main point of the post and the point that was raised during our small group – Is it fair?
Is it fair that God chooses to save some and not others? Some say that God wants to save everyone. However how can that be? If God is sovereign and He wants to save everyone, then everyone would be saved. Clearly that’s not the case. So doesn’t that mean God can’t hold us to account for something we cannot do, ie turn to Him in faith without Him choosing to save us? How can God judge us if we can’t choose to accept Him into our lives without His decisive work in saving us? It’s not fair!!
To ask that question is completely understandable. However there are two points I want to make.
- I feel we tend to naturally look at this from the wrong perspective. We tend to think it’s unfair if God chooses to save some and not others. However we need to realise that we ALL deserve to be judged for our sin. We by our own nature choose to rebel against God. It’s not something God forces us to do. We do it of our own choice. God would be completely just if He didn’t save anyone as we are all as guilty as one another apart from the grace of God in our lives. The fact that God chooses to save some of us given our rebellion against Him is the most incredibly merciful thing to do. His unmerited favour in saving some is a testimony to His love and grace. Too often we look at fairness from our perspective instead of God’s.
- God is completely just in doing what He chooses to do according to His plan. He is God. We are in His creation. Who are we to tell Him what is right and wrong?Romans 9 is possibly the hardest chapter to read in the Bible as it hits our pride head on. Basically it says that it’s God’s choice as to how He uses us, what He decides to do with our lives. How can the clay tell the potter what to do. The potter alone determines for what purpose the clay will be made.
This is not easy to swallow. And I feel that it’s healthy for us to wrestle with it. However in doing so we must remember that we will not understand everything from our human perspective as we are not God. We need accept that the Bible teaches both God’s sovereignty and our responsibility in working out our salvation. Ultimately our existence is to glorify God, not to judge things based on our own sense of right and wrong. We just need to trust in His gracious and righteous hand on our lives and the lives of others. Even if we don’t understand everything that is happening in our lives and in the world around us, God does. Let’s rest in that truth.
“Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it’s the Lord’s plans that prevail.” (Proverbs 19:21)